A Coaching Case Study by Lynette Vaive

ICF-coachWhat happens when a twenty-five year old feels stuck about making life-changing decisions? Can coaching in emotional intelligence help get him excited about the future again? In this case study of a real coaching session, a coach in training uses Six Seconds SEI assessment to help a young man identify areas where he can build on his strengths to make major life decisions about school, relationships, and career. A year can make a huge difference.



In November of 2015, I was one of Six Seconds’ Coaches in Training. I was working at a large health care company in the Midwest. It was there I met Steve, a 25 year old employee whose job it was to train physicians in medical records software use.

Coaching Perspective

Over our six week project, I quickly recognized Steve’s natural ability—and also his lack of confidence in that ability. Several months later I approached him with an offer for low cost coaching. Steve agreed to take the Six Seconds SEI assessment in November 2015 to receive a Brain Talent Profile and be debriefed by a Coach in Training.



For the first session I did a debriefing of the Brain Talent Profile. At the end of that 1-hour meeting, Steve agreed to a second meeting where he would be debriefed on his Brain Brief Profile, also derived from the initial SEI assessment taken in November 2015. During this second meeting, a mentor coach observed the session and provided feedback to me.



At the first session, Steve was surprised that Imagination showed as one of his top brain apps. I suggested that he consider rephrasing his oft-repeated “If I had imagination, I would . . .” The opportunity to own that app as one that he did indeed have seemed to be critical to his thinking and the beginning of making needed change in his life. Steve shared that he had been considering a return to college to complete a degree but had lacked the ability to see how that might fit into his work and home life at this point in time.

Steve's brain appsWe explored how he might see his other top apps playing out in his life, and he was able to share examples of how those were in action. He also shared a lack of confidence due to previous jobs and relationships that had unexpected outcomes.

Steve brainstormed next steps that he might take to determine the feasibility of returning to school. This included having discussions with a director at work and also with his significant other at home.

When we met for the second coaching session three weeks later, he had a totally different energy. He was much more animated than before, and held himself with more confidence. Since the first meeting, Steve had enrolled in school and was scheduled to attend classes beginning in January 2016, the next possible time to begin. He was also considering asking his girlfriend to marry him! He seemed very excited about the direction of his life and looking forward to his future.

From inertia to action: my client made life-changing decisions about school and marriage after two months of coaching.

Steve’s Brain Brief Profile helped him further understand his previous reluctance to move forward in several areas of his life. His Strategist brain style showed a rational focus, with more emphasis on making evaluative decisions than other areas, leaving less energy for visioning the future. This reflected the amount of time he had spent thinking about going back to school, and fit with the picture of how he had been feeling about making this major change in his life.

Steve BBFOur conversation also revealed some of his thoughts about leadership and how he viewed leaders in general. He gained insight into his own views and realized that he does have the ability to be a leader and already is. We discussed how this new information and insight could be used in his life, and how he envisioned his next steps. A few short weeks after our second meeting, Steve asked his girlfriend to marry him, and they are working on wedding plans!

Noting the vast life changes that Steve had made in just 2 short months, I asked if he would be interested in taking the SEI again and having a full debrief of the SEI Profile. We compared the 2 SEI profiles, related them to the Brain Profile results, and celebrated his growth. Steve identified next steps centered around the competencies Exercise Optimism and Purse Noble Goals. Notice below in the results how much had changed in such a short time, moving from functional to skilled in the areas of “Know Yourself” and “Increase Empathy”.

First SEI: 

Steve SEI 1














Second SEI


Steve SEI 2

Notable Improvements

  • Total EQ Score increased 13%, from 81 in November to 92 in February
    • November—Recent Mood: Sadness; Intensity; Moderate (Unhappy)
    • February—Recent Mood: Anticipation; Intensity: Moderate (Eager)
  • Competencies in the Challenge area decreased from 5 to 2 after 3 months
  • Effectiveness and Influence increased from Emerging and Challenge, respectively, to Functional; Decision Making increased from Functional to Skilled

Coaching Perspective

As we reviewed together the pre and post SEI assessments, Steve made the statement that he “always wanted to be more well-rounded.” Additionally, seeing his personal growth illustrated by the move from Challenge in 5 competencies to Challenge in 2 competencies was “really good.”

His biggest “Ah-Ha” was in learning how to create more options when he feels backed into a corner. He feels like “the world sort of happens to him” and now recognizes that he can create a larger pool of choices. He feels better about using the app of Imagination, saying that the choice to go back to school was already a choice available, but he was not recognizing the option. He had to imagine what it would look like if he did go back to school.


Steve has moved from a state of inertia to action and a desire to maintain his forward momentum. While this coaching relationship was a bit unusual (as it was initiated by the coach in training as an assignment), it illustrates clearly the importance of the value of the assessment and debrief by someone whom the client trusts.

The assessments and data worked well with his rational brain style, providing him the visual “proof” that he needed to see: the data to support the positive changes in his life, and the value of Emotional Intelligence.

Lynette Vaive is a coach and Six Seconds’ preferred partner as cofounder of “Spirit of EQ”.  

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